The Idlib Provincial Council has warned that the region is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe after aid groups withdrew following HTS' takeover.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians living in Greater Idlib are facing a humanitarian crisis. This warning was issued by the Idlib Provincial Council, highlighting the continued impacts of the takeover of Greater Idlib by the rebel group, Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
The council warned that since the group took over the region, many aid groups and humanitarian organisations have ceased their activities in the region. These groups have cited security concerns for their staff, as well as fears of unintentionally supporting the HTS, which has been classed as a terrorist group internationally. Indeed, shortly after the HTS took over the town of Atarib, an aid worker for the Czech People in Need charity, Hamdo Omar al-Amr, was found dead. He was last seen being abducted by individuals allegedly linked to the HTS. Similarly, what little aid that did arrive in Idlib following the HTS’ takeover was reportedly blocked from reaching their targets.
Legitimate as these concerns are, the withdrawal of aid groups has nevertheless put immense strain on the people of Idlib. A number of construction, healthcare and education projects have been halted. In cities such as Jisr al-Shugour, a pumping station supplying drinking water ceased its operations as a result of the regional developments.
The Council’s warning comes after the Idlib Health Directorate issued a similar warning, highlighting that many important facilities such as the Hikmah Hospital in Taftanaz, the Idlib City Blood Bank, the epidemiological laboratory in Harem and a number of other facilities in conflict epicenters such as Qalaat al-Madiq and the Ghab Plains are struggling to function, depriving some 20,000 people of vital support. The Directorate’s own warning came after repeated attacks and raids by HTS militants targeting health professionals and facilities.
Both the Council and the Directorate have implored aid groups to continue providing aid, noting that they are not affiliated with the HTS or the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) it supports. However, as the group continues to flex its authority over anti-HTS hotbeds such as Ma’arat Nu’man, the likelihood of aid groups providing support for Idlib diminishes.